According to a news story reported by CBC1, a 72-year old Canadian Woman (“Peggy”) was told by Apple that in order for her to obtain her recently deceased husband’s password to his Apple account, she would need to obtain a court order.
Peggy lost her husband, David, to lung cancer in August of last year. The couple owned an iPad together and had an Apple account to purchase apps. Peggy knew the password to the device but was unaware of the password to the account which was required to use a card game app, which Peggy enjoyed playing.
The news story from CBC reports Peggy and her family’s many attempts to get the password to David’s account from Apple. Peggy’s family stated that Apple gave them the run around until someone at customer service finally told them that they needed to obtain a court order before they could get access to the account. Peggy’s daughter is quoted in the article as saying “What do you mean a court order…we’ve been able to transfer the title of the house, we’ve been able to transfer the car, all these things, just using a notarized death certificate and the will.”
After months of waiting, Peggy and her family took the story public. Once public, Apple changed their tune. Apple reached out to the Peggy’s family and apologized for the misunderstanding and offered to solve the problem without a court order.
Peggy and her family’s struggle is a good reminder of why your Will needs language dealing with Digital Assets. With such language, you can arrange for full access to your Digital Assets by your Executors with low administration costs and you can ensure that none of your Digital Assets are forgotten or missed. Without such language your estate may be left with difficulties in gaining access to any of your accounts similarly to Peggy.
We recommend that you should not only incorporate language into your Will, but that you should also record your passwords in a list. This list should be kept in a secure place where you keep your bank account statements, life insurance policies, RRSP and investment account information etc. This list will help ensure that your Executors or beneficiaries will have any passwords they may require, which in turn should help keep the administration costs of your estate low.
If you do not have a will, you should come to our office and speak with one of us. We would be more than happy to meet with you and discuss your estate plan and answer any questions you may have. If you currently have a will, you should review it and update if it does not have a clause dealing with Digital assets.
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with a lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact Chinneck Law.